With six clean sheets from six games, and two assists to his name, saying that Kostas Tsimikas has had the perfect start to the season would be an understatement. Not many, if any, believed he could even make a dent in Andy Robertson’s left-back crown. Yet, here he is, not only making dents, but gradually getting closer and closer to removing the headpiece. And, crucially, this is not a dig at Robertson. When heaping so much praise on one player, we do not need to directly criticise another. We don’t need to choose between the two like a child picking between divorced parents, we can appreciate the fact that Liverpool now have not one, but two world class left-backs.
For the last three seasons, Robertson has featured in a total of 147 out of 163 games; the Scotsman simply hasn’t stopped unless the FA Cup or Carabao Cup have come to town. A burnout would have arrived. That, or another injury to another top player. So when Tsimikas finally found some rhythm, it felt like a relief. It feels great to be able to hear news that Robertson is missing a game and not panic over the prospect of which square peg would be squeezing into the round hole. For we’ve now found our perfectly moulded peg to slot straight in and not look one bit out of place.
In comparison to the last three seasons prior, Robertson has already missed five games so far this campaign. In usual circumstances, that would mean a strange amount of League Cup games for the Reds. But, thanks to the rise of a certain Greek Scouser, the former Hull City man has been able to take rests against Atletico Madrid, Burnley, Crystal Palace, and Norwich City. Perhaps the biggest compliment you can pay Tsimikas, too, is that, in those five games, Robertson’s absence has not been one bit obvious.
As both continue to fight over the left-back spot, Robertson and Tsimikas will only improve. What’s even more promising is that, right now, the spot could be given to either of them. In fact, based on performances, many wouldn’t be against seeing more of Tsimikas. And that’s where things get difficult. Remember when the start of this piece ordered you not to pick between the two? Well, I hope Jurgen Klopp isn’t reading this, because that’s exactly what he may have to do. That’s how much Tsimikas is pushing for that place; he will force Klopp into a decision in the not so distant future.
It creates some conundrum for the Liverpool boss, doesn’t it? Does he stick with the man who has taken him so far, or has the new kid on the block done enough to warrant a permanent place? It’s a problem, but a good problem to have. In an ideal world, Klopp is able to stick to the current plan, which sees both play more or less the same number of games – Tsimikas has played in eight this season, Robertson in 11. But, as Klopp knows all too well after last season, consistency is key in a backline; you can’t just chop and change each and every week when in domestic competition. So, let’s just say, we have some of the healthiest competition we may see all season on our hands. And, it can only act as a positive.